Posts Tagged ‘pre-trip’

Ways to Keep up with Us

An administrative note: We’ve added links to the bottom right hand corner of the page for RSS feeds and e-mail updates. We’re going to try to post often on here to keep everyone updated, but I’ve found that RSS feeds are the best way to keep up with a blog that may not necessarily be updating regularly. Basically, a reader will show new posts from all of your favorite sites when they update so you don’t have to go clicking around the interwebs to find new content. I follow my favorite blogs through Google Reader–it is simple to set up and manage. Since I am not exactly a tech geek, simple works for me. For those who are curious and aren’t currently using a reader, here is the link for getting started with the google reader: http://www.google.com/reader. You have to create a google account, but that will give you access to all of the google tools, such as the google notebook (my personal favorite internet tool) , google homepage and gmail.

To use the feeds, you can add our feed (https://adamandmegstravels.wordpress.com/feed) directly to your favorite reader, or you can click the link under “RSS Feeds” and choose the appropriate reader from the drop-down box that comes up.

If you’re not using a feed reader to keep up with the interwebs, signing up for e-mail updates will allow you to keep up with us without having to check this page all the time. Just click on the link in the bottom right hand corner of this page that says “Subscribe to The Wander Year by Email.” You will be redirected to a page where you enter your e-mail address and an anti-spam phrase. You will receive a confirmation e-mail almost immediately. Once you click on the link in that confirmation e-mail, you will be all set. When we update here, you’ll get an e-mail. Easy-peasy.

These are new tools here on The Wander Year, so if you have any issues with them, please let me know so we can get everything straightened out.



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Last day of work

Today marks the last day of work for both Megan and me.  That feels really weird to say.  WOW.  We both woke up this morning like it was the last day of school before summer break.  Only this is going to be a really long summer break.

So the countowns continue.  One more day of work.  4 more days until the going away party.  15 days until we actually leave.  WOW.  It all seems a little surreal to me at times, and I don’t know that it’s all really going to hit me until our plane touches down in Peru on October 16.  Only then might I realize that everything we have on our backs is ALL we’re going to have for an entire year.  Only then might I realize that we are in a completely different place in a completely different culture who speak a completely different language.  WOW.  I know it’s not very eloquent, but that’s really all that comes to mind right now.  For those who know me, you know I’m very rarely at a loss for words, but today I am.  WOW.  That’s about all I have.

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20 days until departure. A handful of days of work left (both of our last days are Tuesday). A going away party next Saturday. Friends coming in from out of town to see us off. Seeing and spending as much time as possible with family and friends.

While all of this is very exciting, and while we’re brimming with anticipation for our trip, sometimes we get a little depressed. I know, I know, cry you a river, right? I know no one is going to feel sorry for us, but the thing about this trip that will easily be the hardest is that we’re REALLY going to miss home. Family, friends, and dog top the list (though not necessarily in that order 😉 ). But since we’re going to be in such a foreign place that is completely different from the culture we’re used to, I thought it would be fun to make a list of the top 10 things I’m going to miss in this year abroad. I am not including people or our dog in this, only other things.

Honorable Mention: A Phish comeback

Now this would be #1 on my list if I knew that it was going to happen. For those who know me, you know that Phish has been my favorite band since I was in high school. I spent a lot of my college years and beyond following them around the country. They broke up back in 2004, but there is a ton of chatter that they will be back, and probably within the year. Ideally, they wait until New Year’s Eve 2009 to come back so we can make it.  So Trey, Mike, Jon, Page, if you are reading this, it would work out great for us if you are patient and wait a little while longer.

#10: The St. Louis Rams (and football in general)

I had been a Rams season ticket holder since 2001 before I had to give them up before this season. I’ve gotten used to 8 Sundays downtown during the fall and winter season. While the Rams are probably the worst team in the NFL right now, it still doesn’t matter. It’s something I really enjoy doing with one of my best friends and my parents, and I’m definitely going to miss it.

#9: Cooking

I know this is a weird one, but I love cooking. I cook often, and I enjoy having a decent sized kitchen and everything that goes along with it. We will be cooking often while we’re gone in an attempt to save money, but they certainly won’t be ideal cooking conditions. I’m guessing they won’t have a nice Wustaf knife to chop my veggies, or nice pots and pans, or plenty of cutting boards, or griddles, or grills, or smokers, or any of the amenities that I’m used to cooking with. We’ve been spoiled.

#8: Our bed

We have a comfortable bed in a comfortable room in a comfortable house. We are trading that in for uncomfortable beds in uncomfortable rooms in uncomfortable places. Wait a minute, why are we doing this again?

#7: St. Louis Blues (and hockey)

I love hockey. I love the Blues. The games are the most fun to go to in St. Louis at this point because the real fans still go to the games. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to Cardinals and Rams games, but let’s face it, most fans who go suck. Most aren’t there for the game. It’s a social event or a business meeting or they get there a half hour late and leave a half hour early. Not so much with the Blues. Even with the rough years that we have endured lately as Blues fans (hell, who am I kidding, they’re all rough if you’re a Blues fan), we still support our team and we still love them. And now that they’re hopefully on the upswing and getting close to being back in the playoffs, it should be an exciting year. If they do make the playoffs, this shoots up the list because there is NOTHING like playoff hockey.

#6: Holidays

Even though I said people weren’t going to be part of this list, the main reason I will miss all holidays is because of friends and family. I’ve been at Tamm and West Park in Dogtown for all but one St. Patty’s Day since I was a sophomore in high school, and it’s tradition to skip high school/college/work no matter what day it falls on. I will miss Christmas and Thanksgiving, of course. Dinner on Christmas Eve has been a tradition in my family that I love and cherish. It brings back so many wonderful memories of my childhood, especially of my grandparents. I will also miss Christmas Eve because of the new tradition that has started since my wife and I have been together and have combined into one big family. I will miss my mother-in-laws cooking during Thanksgiving and Easter, especially the Easter potatoes (oh, who am I kidding, I will miss Gretch’s cooking year-round). I will miss Mardi Gras and all the chaos that always come with it. I will the 4th of July and the unbearable heat…no wait, I won’t miss the heat, but I’ll still miss the 4th and the fireworks and the baseball and the pork steaks.

#5: Local music and local music venues

Music is something I have loved since I can remember. Seeing live music is something that I have loved since going to my first concert many years ago. Also, we’re blessed here in St. Louis to have so many great places to go see local music on a daily basis. BB’s, Broadway Oyster Bar, Soulard, the Loop. There are so many bars, venues, and neighborhoods to go see really good music, and it’s something I’m truly going to miss and seek out in the cities we go to. Luckily for us, music is universal and our musical tastes are pretty varied, so I’m pretty confident we’ll find some great places to listen to and enjoy music during our travels.

#4: Beer

I love beer. And not that crap that is watered down and a golden color. I like real beer. Stouts. Pale Ales. Guinness. Newcastle. Schlafly. Good, thick, flavorful beers. Christmas just isn’t going to be the same this year without Schlafly’s Christmas Ale, my favorite beer of all time. Unfortunately, from what I’ve researched (yes, I’ve researched what kind of beers will be available to us in the countries we’re visiting, and no, I don’t have a problem), the beer selection in South America and SE Asia isn’t the best. I’m sure I’ll be able to find some, but it’s not going to be easy, it probably won’t be cheap, and it’s not going to be often. So I have been taking advantage of wonderful beer selection available to me here in the US. And I’ve been having a great time doing it.

#3: Teaching/coaching

Even though I’ve only done this for two years, I know that this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. I love it in so many ways. I went back to the school I taught at over this past weekend for a soccer game. And while it was great to see so many of my colleagues, the best part was seeing my former students and players. I honestly can’t think of a more fulfilling job than education. The look in their faces when the “light goes on” is truly amazing. It’s great to wake up and look forward to going to work. Going back this past weekend really made me miss my job, and I can’t wait to start teaching again.

#2: St. Louis Cardinals (and baseball)

If you’re from St. Louis, you love the Cardinals. And if you don’t, get the hell out because you don’t belong here. I have many memories of the Cards from growing up in St. Louis. Willie McGee. Vince Coleman. The tarp. Ozzie. The Heat is On. Don Denkinger. The Metrodome. Gussie Busch. The Clydesdales. The sale of the Cards. Old Busch being remodeled under the new era of Cardinal baseball. Tony La Russa. Big Mac. Albert. Jimmy Ballgame. Darryl Kile. Jack Buck. The 2004 season and playoffs. The home run off Lidge. Finally, the championship and parade in 06. So many great memories come from Cardinal baseball. It truly is a way of life in St. Louis. I have been to every opening day since I came home from college. The last game at old Busch. Playoff games. A World Series game. The first game at new Busch. From April to October (usually), Cardinal baseball is near the top of the list of my entertainment calendar. I’m going to be a sad man come next April when I’m not around for Opening Day. I went to my last game of the season this past week, and I had a blast, and I was truly depressed upon leaving Busch Stadium knowing that I won’t see another game there for most likely a year and a half.

And finally, drum roll please……….

The #1 thing Adam will miss about home: St. Louis style pizza, specifically Imo’s and Elicia’s

Many of you probably think it’s ludicrous that food is at the top on my list of things I’ll miss. But this isn’t just any food. It’s sweet, sweet, delicious, crunchy pizza with provel cheese. Mmmmmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Many don’t like our thin crust pizza here in St. Louis. And that’s fine. I have a friend in Detroit who says, “It’s stupid. It’s like eating pizza on a f’n cracker.” Maybe, but that’s how we like it here. And I can honestly say that since my last year in college, I have probably eaten pizza on 90% of Sundays, and that is no exaggeration. I have always joked that I could probably eat pizza every single day, but the only thing is that it’s not really a joke. I truly think I could. And I know there will be plenty of pizza across the world, but I guarantee none of them will be made with provel cheese on a thin, crunchy crust.

So you can bet that the first thing I’m going to want to do when I get home is order some Imo’s. In fact, mom, dad, whoever else might come to the airport to pick us up when we arrive home after this adventure, have a pizza for me. 16 inch Canadian Bacon and Bacon, extra sauce. I won’t care if it’s cold. Then hopefully I can reach in the cooler of beer in the car, grab a Guinness, pour it in a glass, and we can head down to Busch for a playoff game as it will be October, and I expect to be back in the playoffs next year.

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One month to go.

1 month, 30 days, 720 hours, 43, 200 minutes, 2, 592, 000 seconds until we leave. WOW! At this time in ONE MONTH we will be in Miami. We stay the night in Miami the night of October 15, and then we take off the next morning to fly to Lima by way of Bogota.

I can’t believe it’s almost here. Megan and I have been saying that to each other for about a month now. A year and a half of planning is down to 30 days. The countdowns have been in place for a while, but now they’re all a reality. 30 days until departure. After today, 11 days of work for Megan. About 4 or 5 days of work left for me.

The checklist is dwindling. The gear is nearly bought. The going away party is planned (Thanks Mary and Tim, moms and dads, and Amy!). Time is running out. We’re really doing this. It’s surreal to me right now, and I honestly can’t believe that this dream of ours is almost about to begin. One month to go, one month to go.

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Crunch Time

We just returned from a trip to Florida with my (Megan’s) family–a chance to squeeze as much time as possible in with some of the people we love most before we take off for such a long time.  (The trip was lovely and relaxing, and we’ll be posting more about it soon.)

Since this vacation fell so close to our departure, it has served as a sort of benchmark in our minds as we were thinking about the trip.  So many times we said, “After our trip to Rosemary Beach, we’ll have just five and half weeks until we leave.”  “After Rosemary, I’ll only have three-and-a-half weeks of work!”  “We’ll sell the car after we get back from Rosemary.”  And so on.

Well, we are back from Rosemary, and crunch time is upon us.  We leave for Peru in 39 days.  The anxiety of realizing that we only have a short period of time to get all of our affairs completely in order is nerve-wracking to say the least.  It makes things more interesting that this particular couple consists of one person who is just as likely to procrastinate as she is to go to sleep at night and another person who is not only efficient, but is so organized that I’m pretty sure he was that kid who always had his homework done before it was due.  Weirdo.  Sometimes it is beautiful process of balancing each other’s extremes.  Sometimes we lose that balance as a result of all the eye-rolling and I just have to slip some valium in his breakfast.  Whatever works. 

You’ll likely be hearing from us more often as we spend more and more time thinking about and working on the final details of the trip.  Hopefully, we’ll have more interesting tidbits to report in the coming weeks than “Geez, we have a lot to do and this trip is sure coming up fast!!”

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So we’ve been saving money for almost 18 months. We’ve sacrificed a lot as far as not going out nearly as often as we were accustomed to, eating dinner in, for me, not going to as many sporting events, and for my wife, not buying clothes and other accessories like purses (thank God). It’s been a HUGE sacrifice for both of us.

Friends and family and even random people that we find ourselves talking to about the trip ask us all the time how we can afford to take a year off and go on a trip like this. And while part of the reason is because of our fortunate current living situation, the main reason is because we just haven’t bought a bunch of stuff. We have never bought a new, fancy TV. Still using the same one I got as a college graduation present from Megan’s parents. Our table that we eat on and the hutch that we use are both Megan’s grandmother’s that we got after she passed. Our TV stand and bookcase in our living room is from Target and 5 years old. Our coffee table is still the same one that was used in college. Our bedroom set is from Megan’s sister. The majority of our kitchen stuff were wedding presents. Megan is still driving a 2001 Hyundai Sonata despite being an attorney making a good chunk of coin. I drive a 2007 Toyota Matrix (bought before the planned trip), but it’s still one of the cheaper new cars we could have bought at the time.

You probably see where I’m going with this. While the majority of our friends own houses, nicer cars, nicer tv’s, nicer furniture, etc., we are still stuck in “year after college” mode with a bunch of “hand-me-down” stuff, despite the fact that we have been out of college for 6 and 7 years. It’s all about priorities. There is certainly nothing wrong with having nice, fun toys. I would love to have a 52 inch, hi-def, flatscreen tv. Megan would love to be able to drive her coworkers to lunch without being embarrassed. But we want to be able to travel for a year without working even more than we want stuff, and that’s why this trip is possible.

So where is all this going? After not buying much for ourselves for the past year and a half, we are finally able to bust into all that money we’ve been saving to start buying clothes and gear for the trip. Yesterday, Megan received a 27 pound box that we ordered from backcountry.com, filled with clothes. As we are getting closer to the departure date, we are also getting closer to having a more concrete packing list. As far as clothes go, after receiving our package last night, I am pretty damn close to knowing exactly what clothes I am bringing. My wife, well, not so much, but let’s just say that it’s because I’m simpler than she, not because of my superior organizational skills.

So after all this, here is what my packing list of clothes looks like:

Underwear-ex officio lightweight, quick dry underwear – not sure exactly how many I’m bringing, but probably between 3 and 5

Shirts-5 total shirts; 2 lightweight t-shirts, 1 button up short sleeve shirt, 1 button up long sleeve shirt, and 1 lightweight base layer

Pants/Shorts- 3 total; 1 pair of lightweight REI pants; 2 pairs of lightweight zip-off pants that also serve as shorts

Fleece- 1 lightweight microfleece

Jacket- 1 rain jacket

Socks- still not sure on this, but probably 3 pairs of Smartwool socks

Long Underwear- 1 pair of lightweight bottoms

Shoes- 1 pair of hiking/walking/cross-training shoes, 1 pair of flip-flops (that’s right, 2 pairs of shoes for a year!–just wait until my wife posts her packing list)

Hats- 2 – 1 Cardinals hat (have to represent to Redbirds in places like Bolivia and Cambodia) and a hiking hat

That’s it. Those are the clothes I’m going to live in for an entire year. Now of course, I’m sure I’ll have to buy a thing here or there while we’re gone, but for the most part, that’s it. Stick around for more as we get closer and closer. I’m sure Megan will get her packing list up here at some point, and then we’ll get a full packing list of everything we’re bringing, complete with pictures.

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So today marks two months until our departure.  Excitement and exhilaration has quickly turned to panic and nervousness.  Not panic and nervousness in the sense that we are rethinking our decision to take this trip (sorry moms and dads) because that is certainly not the case.  We’re more excited than ever.  But we did make a to-do list recently, and, well, let’s say it isn’t small.  But we have recently made some headway in our planning and preparations.

Just a few hours ago we booked an apartment in the San Telmo barrio (basically another word for neighborhood; I’m just trying to sound smart) of Buenos Aires for a month.  So that tightens up the itinerary just a bit.  We now have three things set in stone.  We will leave St. Louis on October 15 and fly to Lima, Peru.  We will leave for our hike on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu on November 5, and then we have an apartment booked in Buenos Aires from December 19 to January 19.

So things are starting to come together.  We have been shopping both online and in stores to finish up getting all our clothing and gear, and that has been both expensive and exciting.  We will definitely update our gear page when we finalize everything.  You wouldn’t think that shopping would be that difficult considering we’re only taking a few items of clothing each, but when you’re only bringing two shirts, you have to be picky about which shirts you bring.

We hope to knock more off the list in the coming weeks before we go to Florida with Megan’s family for a week starting on Labor Day weekend.  But we have quickly realized that we have plans almost every weekend up until we leave, so finding the time to get everything done is becoming a stressful thing.

That’s all for now, until next time….

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